I Hate "Hate"
Thursday, May 17, 2012 2:51:36 PM
Garcia has written a contemporary "roman a clef" in the manner of Saul Bellow's "Ravelstein." But none of his characters is Allan Bloom, and Garcia is certainly no Saul Bellow. French cultural life - with its celebrity "talking heads" - is shown to be insular, incestuous, and (ultimately) irrelevant. Is the modern French intellectual scene really this dull?
I probably would have liked the novel more if it hadn't been for the narrator, Elizabeth Lavallois. She's the recipient of other character's confessions and confidances, but herself is passive and unreflective. For a "cultural journalist," she's pretty much a cypher. Supposedly she is an advanced thinker and "intimate" of structuralists and deconstructionists. But in her personal life she acts like a doormat for the "Dominque Strauss-Kahn"-like men who dominate her life. I guess I just don't understand French women.
The other main character is a sociopathic and talentless gay male writer who becomes an advocate for "barebacking." Of course he gets his "comeuppance" by the end of the book.
There are at least half a dozen Anglophone "classics of literature" that deal with the spread of HIV/AIDS in the gay community. There may be a good Francophone novel that tackles the subject, but this isn't it.